1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

May 8, 2008

:129 Prevent Radon Entry

Filed under: :129 Prevent Radon — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:07 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:129 EcoTip: Fixing radon problems isn’t a nightmare, provided you do your homework and understand what your doing. EPA has excellent guidance information on how to do-it-yourself as well as choosing a contractor to do it for you.

Source: EPA

The diagram is a composite view of several mitigation options.  The typical mitigation system usually has only one pipe penetration through the basement floor; the pipe may also be installed on the outside of the house.


 Additional Information

EPA states:

Since there is no known safe level of radon, there can always be some risk. But the risk can be reduced by lowering the radon level in your home.

There are several proven methods to reduce radon in your home, but the one primarily used is a vent pipe system and fan, which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside.  This system, known as a soil suction radon reduction system, does not require major changes to your home.  Sealing foundation cracks and other openings makes this kind of system more effective and cost-efficient.  Similar systems can also be installed in houses with crawl spaces. Radon contractors can use other methods that may also work in your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.

The cost of reducing radon in your home depends on how your home was built and the extent of the radon problem. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs. The average house costs about $1,200 for a contractor to fix, although this can range from about $800 to about $2,500.  The cost is much less if a passive system was installed during construction.

A more detailed description of methods and cost is at: http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/consguid.html

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  1. To check your house for radon visit, http://www.checkmyhouse.com

    Comment by The Fury — September 13, 2008 @ 9:31 am

  2. I stumbled onto your blog when researching a radon fix for my home….just had to say how much I love and appreciate what you are doing! A fantastic resource; I must now go back and catch up on 9 months of entries. How has this year been for you?

    Thank you, thank you, from Laura in Annapolis, Maryland.

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for the positive words. It has been a great nine months! The September statistics indicate over 5000 views.

    I would be interested in hearing about your radon problem, how you decide to approach it, and any additional questions for which your not finding the answers.

    John Banta

    Dear John,
    What a great pleasure to get your email!

    Our home in Annapolis tested at 17.3 pCi/L at the time of purchase over a year ago–my father was the home inspector (since retired). At that time, my Dad gave me three good companies for radon abatement and here we are a year later just getting to it. Yikes! After speaking with the three companies, I chose one and they came last week and put a pipe in our sump pump (our basement is so dry it has never turned on) and, since it is a split level home, they also drilled underneath our family room and connected that pipe, installing the fan unit outside. We are, this minute, at the beginning of our short-term canister test. I was careful to close up the house last night, etc.

    The questions are arising because my Dad (who was here to oversee their work) has lost faith in this company rep and is completely convinced the reading will be high. My husband, who knows nothing about house construction or radon and just wants this all to be over (and is a pretty smart guy, in general!), was left in charge of the company rep and the work because I was away from home that day…he thinks everything is just fine! And he works everyday, by the way, at a desk in the basement! He is a lifelong non-smoker, but we still don’t want him to get cancer. : )

    Dad points out that when he asked about a crack in the front wall of the house (above ground barely, about 6-8″ long) his question was dismissed as “not an issue”. A small crack in the floor, however, was patched by the workmen (Dad pointed it out to them). The representative, while appearing knowledgeable, evidently didn’t mention that we should not use the clothes dryer in the basement during the three day canister test. We are testing in our family room also (adjacent to and up one floor from the basement), and the rep didn’t tell us to close the chimney flue, either. (But since Dad did, I closed it and will not use the dryer.) Dad also sees problems with the 2-3 day canisters and is happy that the rep also recommends using the longer 3 month test also, at our own discretion and expense.

    How important is the wall crack at the front of the house? It had been patched on both the inside and outside by the previous owner (it’s a brick front), but is nonetheless visible. The test results, of course, may lay all that to rest. Also, we have an office next to the family room (both on a slab, I guess); should we be testing in there, too? Dad is concerned that the pipe installed was installed only under the family room, not near the office and will not draw from under the office. The family room and office and foyer hallway make up the entire 1st floor, the 2nd floor (kitchen, living/dining area) being over the basement. Could there be a footer between the family room and office that would prevent draw to the newly installed pipe?

    If you care to weigh in, I will be paying very close attention to your words of wisdom.

    Sincerely yours in eco-home care,

    17.7 pCi/L is pretty high compared to the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L. Whether the system installed will fix the problem is dependent on if the fan is able to suck the gas from the soil under the basement slab or if the negative pressure in the home is great enough to over come the fan. If there is gravel under the slab in the basement and the house the flow of air under the slab is more likely to be sufficient to control the whole area than if its clay soil. Since you have two levels sitting on soil it may be necessary to address both areas not just the basement.

    At this point it makes sense to wait and see what the testing reveals, I would consider getting an electronic radon monitor (:130) so you can keep an eye on things year round. It will more than pay for itself if you have to do several tests to figure out the issues. Also – Winter tends to be more problematic than summer – so conditions may change over the next few months and continued monitoring makes sense.

    Here are the 1:5:10:365 EcoTips that I think will apply most to the situation you are describing.

    :051 has information about sump pump covers
    :128 is about radon testing
    :129 information source for fixing radon
    :130 an electronic radon monitor

    John Banta
    I saw your description of an electronic radon monitor and really took to the idea. For our situation, it seems like a very good purchase.

    Thank you for your response–if we get a reading higher than 4.0 pCi/L, you’ll be hearing from me about it!


    Comment by John Banta — October 4, 2008 @ 3:37 am

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